AA/Tunis/Hmida Ben Romdhane**
Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the USSR and the last member of the former Soviet Nomenklatura died on Tuesday August 30 at the age of 91.
Born in the village of Privolnoye in southwestern Russia, Gorbachev grew up a committed communist. After graduating with a law degree from Moscow State University in 1955, he rose through the ranks of the Communist Party and rose to its highest post – general secretary – in March 1985.
The tributes, after his death, were much more numerous and much more supported in the West than in his country, Russia. Admittedly, the Kremlin issued a statement in which it hailed “a man who had a great influence in the history of the world”, but Gorbachev will not have an official funeral and will be buried as an ordinary citizen and not as someone who had “great influence in the world”.
In the West, on the other hand, European and American leaders vied with each other in emotion and praise. Who weaves the best laurel for “the man who changed the course of history”. From Joseph Biden to Emmanuel Macron to Boris Johnson and senior EU officials in Brussels, everyone spoke highly of the deceased.
The question that arises here is: why did the news of Mikhail Gorbachev’s death elicit emotions and praise in the West and restrained reactions akin to indifference in Russia?
The answer is that the role played by Gorbachev during the six years (1985-1991) spent at the head of the USSR was extremely positive for the West in general and the United States in particular, but disastrously negative for the Russians. who, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, sank into poverty, misery and political instability.
The intention at the start was good. By launching perestroika (economic restructuring) and glasnost (political transparency), Gorbachev was probably far from thinking that he was going to trigger an irreversible dynamic that would eventually bring about the dismantling of state enterprises, the backbone of the Soviet economy and main Source of
state funding. He could not prevent state enterprises from falling into the hands of the sharks of international finance.
The Soviet state under Gorbachev was gradually losing its sources of funding, becoming less and less able to pay the salaries of the millions of workers, civil servants, engineers, doctors who found themselves unemployed and sinking into poverty. The collapse of the Soviet empire led by Gorbachev was only a matter of time. This internally.
Externally, Gorbachev’s foreign policy was equally disastrous for the interests of the USSR, but extremely beneficial for the West. He accepted the dismantling of the Warsaw Pact and the Berlin Wall; he agreed to the unification of Germany; he voted in the Security Council for the use of force against Iraq, an ally of the USSR, allowing Bush senior to start the first war against the regime of Saddam Hussein. So many concessions worth gold for the West, but Gorbachev made them for free. Or rather against a verbal promise made by Bush Sr. that NATO will not advance one centimeter in the direction of the East. We know what it is today: the non-respect of this verbal promise is the direct cause of the disastrous war in Ukraine…
What could be more normal when the announcement of the death of the “father of Perestroika and glasnost” and “demolisher of the USSR” is received with fervor and emotions in the West and sobriety or indifference in his own country?
We are entitled to ask ourselves here if the praises expressed unanimously by Western leaders do not hide a certain dose of hypocrisy? If their fervor and their emotion are not more artifice than feelings actually felt?
The years 1990 and 1991 were particularly difficult economically and financially not only for Soviet citizens, but also for the leaders of the faltering empire. Gorbachev then decided to go to London in July 1991 where the G7 meeting was being held. Purpose of the visit? Urgently request financial assistance. Net refusal of the rich of the planet. He won’t have a penny.
Yet the leaders of the G7 had great sympathy. But since he had squandered all his assets, since he had freely made all the concessions that Washington, London, Paris and Berlin needed, he will return to Moscow empty-handed.
In an article published on August 31 in the online newspaper “Counterpuch.com”, Jeffrey Sommers, professor of political economy at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, writes: “If Gorbachev had asked for the money earlier in exchange for the exit of his troops from the Warsaw Pact, he would have received massive financial aid. He began to negotiate too late to obtain money and security guarantees on NATO, and he dismantled the central bank and the state enterprises that financed his government too soon. »
Just days after the G7 rebuff, Gorbachev faced a coup attempt. In the early hours of August 19, 1991, a group calling itself the “State Emergency Committee” attempted to seize power. Mikhail Gorbachev was on vacation in Crimea. A delegation from the Committee was sent to him. She asked him to sign the proclamation of the state of emergency. In other words, he was being asked to accept the coup de force. He refused. All communications with the outside world were cut off.
It was then that Boris Yeltsin, freshly elected President of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) by universal suffrage, took the lead of the forces hostile to the Committee and sent tanks into the center of Moscow.
Shortly after the failed coup attempt, Gorbachev resigned and Yeltsin replaced him. This one was not long in giving the coup de grace to a USSR in a comatic state. Finding itself the only superpower, the United States imposed a remote-controlled unipolar system from Washington, and Francis Fukuyama, going a bit hastily, announced to us “the end of history”.
In an editorial published on the iris-France.org site, the French political scientist Pascal Boniface writes: “In the last part of the 20th century, two men marked the history of the world in a major and positive way: Mandela and Gorbachev. Mandela is unanimously respected, Gorbachev less so. But his contribution to peace was certainly even more important than that of the former South African leader: he put an end to an unjust system and to the division of the world. But from this division of the world was not born the new world order, which the United States celebrated while doing everything to ensure that it was not put in place”.
*The opinions expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial line of Anadolu Agency.
**Hmida Ben Romdhane, journalist, former editor and CEO of the newspaper La Presse de Tunisie.
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